- July 30, 2019: Chris Davis has already endured a record hitless streak of 62 plate appearances. He has displayed fortitude when he goes days, even weeks, without the positive reinforcement of a base knock. That doesn’t mean Davis wants to keep testing his grit.
Davis was facing another extended, confidence-challenging streak on the Orioles’ West Coast road trip. He stepped into the batter’s box against Matt Strahm in the eighth inning at Petco Park with no hits and 14 strikeouts in 16 at-bats on the trip. One slow jog around the bases later, the frustration of that skid was replaced with the joy of a tiebreaking homer that boosted the Orioles to an 8-5 victory over the Padres. Davis’ 417-foot shot to center field snapped a 5-5 tie and fueled a three-run inning that gave the O's their first winning road swing since the first week of the season.
“Any time you’re scuffling or going through a rough spot, you want the opportunity to come through in a big situation,” said Davis, who was in an 0-for-18 skid overall, going back to the Orioles’ last homestand. “I was just battling all day, really the last few days, trying to get back into that groove. It felt good to put a good swing on one.”
The O's opened the year 4-2 at the Yankees and Blue Jays, then endured three long months of losing. But Baltimore's 5-4 trip through Arizona, Anaheim and San Diego gave the club a 12-12 record in July. For a team that’s 36-71 overall, that’s progress.
“For our guys to compete the way they did these last three series on the road is really impressive,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I like the way our guys are sticking together. I think our dugout is unbelievable. I think some of our young guys are getting better.”
Davis, 33, isn’t one of the young guys, and his challenge isn’t so much about making progress as it is an ongoing search for that old mojo. Twice the Major League home run leader, he no longer is greeted by pitchers who nibble around the corners, fearing his power. Right-handers Dinelson Lamet and Craig Stammen gave Davis a steady diet of sliders in his first three at-bats, and he struck out all three times.
In a lefty-lefty matchup with Strahm in the eighth, Davis saw two more sliders. The second one was sent skyward at 104.4 mph off the bat for Davis’ eighth homer of the season and 291st of his career. One might think a long stretch with no hits and plenty of strikeouts would mean the hitter is either getting anxious or chasing balls outside the strike zone. Davis’ problem was just the opposite.
“I was taking a lot of pitches that were good pitches to hit,” he said. “Or I was late on good pitches to hit. If I’m not swinging, I’m not giving myself much feedback. If I’m swinging, I know whether I’m late, whether I’m on time, whether I’m underneath the ball or whatever. I’ve just got to battle through it and keep grinding.”
Davis’ record hitless streak began on Sept. 14 last year and lasted until April 13 this season. It’s an uphill climb when your batting average is .000 more than two weeks into the season. Davis has crept within a couple hits of .200 twice, but he has slipped back each time. His slash line stands at .181/.260/.315.
“Taxing,” Davis said. “I have a lot more gray hair than I started the season with.”
|Birth City:||Longview, TX|
|Draft:||Rangers #5 - 2006 - Out of Navarro JUCO (TX)|
- Chris grew up in Longview, Texas as a fan of the Rangers. Longview is less than 150 miles from the Ballpark in Arlington.
In high school, Davis both pitched and played the outfield. In the spring of 2006, he mashed 17 home runs for Navarro Junior College in Texas. Chris was limited on the mound because of a sore back.
But he still boosted his draft stock significantly, going in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, a year after the Angels took him in the 35th round.
And the Rangers provided a bonus of $172,500 to sign Chris. Randy Taylor is the scout who signed him.
In 2007, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Davis as 11th-best prospect in the Rangers organization. And they moved Chris all the way up to #2 in the spring of 2008.
Midway through the 2007 season, Chris had a 35-game hitting streak for the Bakersfield Blaze (CAL-Rangers). That tied the longest streak in California League history, set by Modesto's Brent Gates in 1992. The streak ended on July 18 when he went 0-for-4 with a walk. Davis's streak started June 7 and the 21-year-old third baseman hit .390 with 11 home runs and 50 RBIs in those 35 games.
For the 2007 season, the Rangers named Davis as their Tom Grieve Minor League Player of the Year. Davis split time between Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Frisco, and hit .297 with 36 home runs and 118 RBIs. He was second in all of the minor leagues in home runs and RBIs.
- It wasn't uncommon for Chris to make the 150-mile trip to Rangers Ballpark during his junior and senior years at Longview High School, which happened to be Mark Teixeira's first two seasons in the big leagues. Though Davis was a shortstop and pitcher for the Lobos, the first baseman Teixeira caught the teenager's eye, particularly at the plate.
"I just remember how cool it was that they played the theme from 'The Natural' whenever he hit a home run," Davis recalls. "And I think he homered every time I was out there."
The parallels between Teixeira and Davis are obvious. The Rangers drafted Teixeira, a 6'3", 220-pound power hitter, out of college. He played his first pro season at third base, before moving across the diamond as he broke into the big leagues as a first baseman.
Similarly, Texas drafted the 6' 3", 220-pound Davis out of college. After a debut summer at first base and the outfield, he played his first full pro season at third base, moving this year to first base and arriving in Arlington at that position. (Jamey Newberg / Special to MLB.com).
There are three tattoos on Davis's upper body—a cross on his back that came in 2006, the word "salvation" scrawled vertically down his right side the following year, and, most recently, the Bible passage from Hebrews 12:1-2.
The passage is etched into Davis's left side, words that resonated even when the dull thud of the ball hitting the catcher's mitt behind him became a daily occurrence, a cause for sleepless nights, and a revolving ticket to Triple-A back when he was with the Rangers organization.
"Let us throw off everything that hinders," reads the black ink over his rib cage. "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
The cursive J that's tattooed on his left ring finger is for his wife, Jill.
Davis started his first Major League game at first base on June 27, 2008, and hit his first Major League home run during the game. He also homered the next day, becoming the first Texas Ranger to homer in both of his first two Major League starts.
During the offseason before 2011 spring training, Chris recommitted to Jesus Christ. Sent back to Triple-A Round Rock to start the season, Davis thought that if things didn't change soon—if the Rangers didn't give him a real shot or trade him—he was going to become a minister. He prayed about it, and the very next day, Chris hit three home runs.
Chris is a workout junkie who spent the offseason before 2013 Spring Training in North Dallas waking up before sunrise and trudging to the neighborhood track to do three hours of speed and explosiveness training.
During Davis's strong first half of the 2013 season, the hint that he must be doing steroids rose from the talk shows and tabloids.
"There's nothing in my mind or body that would ever allow me to do something like that," Chris said, growing a bit testy. "The people who just assume you're on steroids aren't there in the weight room after a game when you've played four hours in the sweltering heat and you have zero energy and you know you need to get a workout in. It's just disrespectful."
Davis and his wife Jill live in Baltimore, Maryland (in-season) and Dallas, Texas (off-season). They married in 2011.
Davis was featured on one of SI's regional covers for the magazine's Aug. 26, 2013 issue.
The intrigue over what Davis accomplished in 2013 extends well beyond the confines of the O's record book. Because in the age of drug testing, of specialized bullpens and ample high-velocity arms, of intense video study and spray charts and hot and cold zones, of high strikeouts and low batting averages, and a steady stream of 2-1 games, the 50-homer hitter is an increasingly captivating commodity.
That Davis, the 27th member of the 50-homer club, has become one qualifies as a surprise, as was the case when Jose Bautista, the last player to reach the mark, did it in 2010. Then again, we didn't have full access or understanding of the competitive fire, the hunger to adjust and adapt and the untapped talent that rested within Davis and Bautista, both of whom have faced unfair and undue scrutiny of their accomplishments from the intellectually lazy.
For Davis, that scrutiny will persist, undoubtedly. The Big 50 only refreshes his prominent spot on the national radar and therefore only regurgitates the discourse over whether his coming-of-age is on the up-and-up. It's the consistency with which that power now presents itself that is the real revelation here.
Davis, through much trial and error, found a routine and an approach that worked for him. And then he repeated it and repeated it and repeated it again. We saw the first signs of his surge last season, when his 33 homers, including 10 in the final month, helped propel the O's to a Wild Card berth. And this season, he's proven to be the real deal, the only man standing between Miguel Cabrera and his second consecutive Triple Crown.
Some credit here goes to Robinson Cano, who came across Davis in winter ball after the 2010 season and encouraged him to focus on his strengths (quite literally) and not be so caught up in contact, a conversation Davis has cited as his epiphany. Credit also goes to Andy MacPhail, who made the savvy swap with the Rangers.
Mostly, though, credit goes to Davis himself. For following his inherent belief in his abilities into the video room, into the batting cage and into the batter's box, where, on September 13, 2013, he swung big, swung hard, and hit the Big 50. (Castrovince - mlb.com - 9/13/13)
2014 Spring Training Q&A:
Favorite food: Mexican food. From Texas.
Favorite movie: Forrest Gump. It's a feel-good story. Saw it a long time ago, will still sit and watch it when it's on.
Special talent: I'm a good reader. See, you're surprised. I read a lot. The last book I read was Francis Chan's, "Crazy Love." As you can see right now [on my iPad], I'm reading "The Blessed Life" [by Robert Morris].
If I wasn't a baseball player I'd be ... Probably a youth pastor.
Favorite offseason place: Home [just north of Dallas]. Just being at home with my family. I hunt a lot so anywhere in the woods, in nature.
Prized possession: My Bible. It's what I carry with me everywhere.
Chris Davis and his wife, Jill, welcomed a baby girl on 5/25/14 in Baltimore. It is the couple's first child.
"Everything went well, great," manager Buck Showalter said. "I promised him before we left, I said, 'Listen, don't feel like you have to text me and do this and do that. I'll leave you alone. Then on the plane [after the game] I texted him, I said, "I lied. I'm dying to know how everything went.'"
SUSPENSION FOR ADDERALL
September 12, 2014: The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced that Davis has received a 25-game suspension without pay after testing positive for an amphetamine in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
September 15, 2014: Davis was one of several people who helped lift an overturned truck, aiding accident victims on a weekday afternoon, a witness at the scene told MASNSports.com. According to the firsthand account, Davis waved people over to help him lift what was described as a heavy pickup truck in order to unpin a man who was trapped underneath.
Mike Soukup, one of the people who helped Davis said that the accident occurred on I-295 and that Davis, who currently is serving a 25-game suspension for a positive amphetamine test, was among the first people who attempted to help.
"When I turned to look at the first man, I instantly noticed a VERY strong resemblance to Chris Davis," Soukup wrote in an email to MASNSports.com. "He didn't have any Orioles gear on (so I wasn't sure ... there was no big '19' on him anywhere!), except his tennis shoes were black and orange.
"We glanced at each other with a 'good job' look and I said, 'Chris?' He said, 'Yeah?' 'Chris Davis?' 'Yeah?' I said, 'One hell of a way to meet Chris Davis.'"
Davis speaks out on his suspension (November 22, 2014): “I haven’t really talked a lot about it. I didn’t want to take the focus off what the team was doing, but eventually I knew that I was going to have to address it and I wanted to. I think the fans deserve an explanation. I think they want to know what happened.”
“Basically, in a moment of weakness I made a decision that cost me greatly. And it just goes to show that no matter how successful you’ve been in the past, no matter how much stuff you have, no matter how strong you are in your faith, the devil is going to continue to come after you.”
“Looking back on it, it was probably the best thing that could have happened at the time, but it was definitely one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to go through.
"The first few days after the suspension came out, I was really down, I was really depressed because I felt I had let so many people down and had really just scarred my reputation to the point where everything that I had done wasn’t really going to count for anything, and God just kind of reached down and put his arm around me at that time and let me know it’s OK to stumble as long as you continue to get up and move forward and learn from your mistakes.
“I’m at a point right now where I don’t wish to ever go through that again, but I appreciate the process and where it has brought me spiritually.”
September 25, 2014: Davis received a 25-game suspension for failing a second test for the drug. (Davis reportedly previously had an exemption, but not in 2014.) He missed the final 17 games of the 2014 regular season, and then he sat out all seven of the Orioles' playoff games. That means Davis has one more game left to serve in his suspension, the first game of the 2015 regular season.
On December 17, 2014: Chris received clearance from Major League Baseball to use Adderall in the 2015 season. Davis blamed his violation of MLB's drug program on his use of the drug, which is commonly used to combat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It was his second failed test.
At the 2015 annual FanFest event, Davis said he was diagnosed with ADHD in 2008 and that he took Adderall to help him better function in everyday life. He had been granted a therapeutic-use exemption for Adderall by Major League Baseball in previous seasons but was denied in 2013, when he led the majors with 53 homers. He did not reapply for an exemption last season, when he admitted to taking Adderall multiple times to help his focus.
Davis has been granted another year-long exemption, but for the prescription drug Vyvanse. Unlike Adderall, Vyvanse is a slow-releasing stimulant that can last, according to research, up to 14 hours, according to Dr. David Goodman, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. (An extended-release formulation of Adderall called Adderall XR is also available.)
Davis is hoping that his 25-game suspension is now behind him. "There's no doubt [I have a new mindset]," said Davis, who now has a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) for his ADHD medication.
"I think you realize when something like the suspension comes up, it's really a privilege to be here and a blessing to play at this level each and every day. I mean, we work hard, day in and day out to prepare ourselves and to give ourselves the best opportunity to succeed. But at the end of the day, it's a privilege to be here and be a part of this team."
Davis's suspension last season was for two positive tests of Adderall and he is expecting he'll face some hostile crowds away from Camden Yards. He already got a taste of things during Spring Training 2015. "One of the biggest things for me was going through 2013, all the false accusations and having to hear all that stuff about steroids because I was having success," Davis said.
"I think that kind of prepared me to go out there and play, whether they are cheering for you or against you [in the stands]."
O's manager Buck Showalter said, "It's been 209 days since he played in a Major League game. I know he's excited. So are we to have him back. It's been a long road for him. He'd be the first to tell you it was self-inflicted. But I don't think anybody here doesn't think he paid a dear price for it." (Ghiroli - mlb.com 4/8/15)
Chris has had a lot of hearing loss through the years because he does not use earplugs while hunting. He has trouble hearing anything that is spoken or occurs behind him. (MLB Network - Intentional Talk interview - 5/06/15)
In 2015, Chris was named the Louis M. Hatter Most Valuable Oriole Award winner by members of the local media, and he was recognized in an on-field ceremony prior to the regular-season finale against the Yankees. (Kruth - mlb.com - 10/2/15)
Dec 13, 2016: When he signed a club-record seven-year, $161 million contract, Davis referenced wanting to do more in the community. He made good on that promise, as he and his wife, Jill, announced a new partnership with the University of Maryland Children's Hospital (UMCH). The Davis family will serve as ambassadors for UMCH, helping to raise awareness for childhood illnesses and UMCH's role as a leader in patient care and pediatric disease research and teaching future generations of health care providers.
"We wanted to get involved in several ways with the city," Davis said of his wife, who previously worked as a nurse. "There were a number of organizations that we've already partnered with throughout the years that we're going to continue to work with. We wanted to do something that was a little closer to home for Jill, something that she could have a little bit more involvement with.
"We just kind of fell in love with the hospital, with the people who work there, the things that they're doing, where they want to go. We're all in on that. And we decided to come up here this offseason and do some things to kind of get involved in and show our faces even though we're kind of here and there [in Texas]." (B Ghiroli - MLB.com - Dec 13, 2016)
In 2008, after a hot start with his hometown team, the Rangers, Davis was dubbed "Crush Davis" by local media and fans. It's a play on "Crash Davis" from the movie "Bull Durham." The name stuck with the slugger, who led the Majors in home runs in 2013.
January 24, 2018: Twin daughters, Evelyn Kay and Dorothy Grace were born for Chris, Jill and big sister Ella.
The children made their way to home plate at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 14, 2018, some wearing smiles of joy, others with looks of trepidation. However, each came with a common goal: To participate in a T-ball challenge where they had a chance to belt a ball off a tee.
These little ones got some help from a few friends. Chris and his wife, Jill, steadied them, gave advice and helped them get ready to take their cuts. Most were—or had some connection to—patients from the Pediatric Heart Program of the University of Maryland Children's Hospital (UMCH) at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
This was all part of the second annual "Crush's Homers for Hearts," a fundraiser hosted by Chris and Jill Davis that benefits the Pediatric Heart Program. There was also a reception, but the Home Run Derby challenge needed to be postponed due to weather issues. The Orioles said that will be rescheduled at a later date.
This event raised almost $100,000 last year; in addition, Davis donated $1,000 for each homer he hit last season, which brought in another $26,000. He is doing that pledge once more this season, and both Davis and his wife are thrilled to help, especially since they had twins in the offseason.
"Last year, it was really special for us but this year, it's even more special because this offseason, when we had our twins, we kind of got a little glimpse into what these parents and families go through," Jill Davis said. "It really hits close to home. We're just really committed to doing whatever we can to help these families."
Chris clearly enjoyed helping the little kids out on the field. He worked at setting the children up in the batter's box, adjusting their swings and giving some baseball advice. He said he's glad to be able to help the people at the hospital because what they do means so much to so many.
"It definitely changes your perspective once you have your own kids—you kind of see what that entails, and how delicate they are, but really, how resilient they are," Davis said. "I think we both have a heart for not only the kids and the parents … there's a lot of amazing people [who work at the hospital] and they're doing some great things."
There were a few doctors from the hospital at the event, and all said how happy they were that Chris and Jill Davis got together with them to start this event. Steve Czinn, Geoff Rosenthal, and Sunjay Kaushal were the doctors present, all wearing Orioles jerseys and proud of what was taking place.
"To have somebody like Chris Davis and Jill Davis come to us and help us put a program like this on, it just speaks volumes for what we're doing," Czinn said. "The PR, the visibility—it's priceless."
Kaushal said he also loved watching one of his patients on the field hitting during the T-ball challenge. When asked how the child's swing looked, the doctor simply grinned. "Ah, perfect," he said. (Seidel - mlb.com - 5/14/18)
Dec 4, 2018: After the front office positions are filled, a manager is hired and his coaching staff solidified, only then will new Orioles general manager and executive vice president Mike Elias' focus shift entirely to his roster. The biggest question going forward remains whether or not that turnover will include Chris Davis.
Davis appears likely to return despite a disappointing 2018, when he put together one of the worst offensive seasons in Major League history. There are simply few options but to hope for a bounce-back season from Davis, who is owed $92 million through 2022. Davis himself is adopting a similar mind-set.
"I think a lot of it resetting and starting over," Davis said on MLB Network Radio. "For me, it's kind of stepping back, taking a deep breath and realizing there is a little bit different landscape there." The first baseman remains one of a handful of holdovers from the group that helped Baltimore to playoff appearances from 2015-16. He was one of the few veterans the club was unable to unload at 2018's non-waiver Trade Deadline, given his production and financial attachments.
"Not necessarily from scratch, but a lot of things have changed. We traded away a large portion of our team, we're in a rebuilding phase now and it looks a little different," Davis said. "I guess now I'm the old man in the clubhouse, which is kind of weird, but it's going to be a lot of fun. I think we're going to surprise some people these next couple of years, and hopefully we can turn it around pretty quick."
Elias struck a similar tone when asked about Davis at his introductory press conference, saying, "This lineup is at its best with a productive Chris Davis, a dangerous Davis in the middle of the lineup. I want to see that happen." But Elias has made little secret of his plans for a thorough rebuild, calling "it a process that doesn't have shortcuts."
That could hint at a tough decision looming at some point regarding Davis, who finished 2018 with a .168/.243/.296 line across 522 plate appearances. His batting average was the lowest in baseball history for a player with enough at bats to qualify for the batting title. He is set to earn $23 million of the Orioles' $60 million on the books for 2019—nearly 40 percent of their current projected Opening Day payroll. (T Trezza - MLB.com - Dec 4, 2018)
Dec 12, 2018: Over the years, agent Scott Boras and the Orioles have routinely met during the Winter Meetings, often using the annual gathering to lay the groundwork for deals with some of Boras' most prominent clients. This week, the two sides again convened to discuss one of those clients. But the nature of this year's talks centered on a deal that was struck some time ago. Members of the Orioles' new regime met with Boras to discuss Chris Davis, whose contract and struggles make his future in Baltimore something of an awkward, open question. General manager and executive vice president Mike Elias plans to have a similar in-person meeting with Davis in the near future. The topic will mirror the one Elias and Boras bounced around: how the former slugger can rebound from his historically poor 2018.
"It behooves us, and it behooves Chris and it behooves the Boras Corporation to collaborate and share notes on how we can turn his performance around this year," Elias said. "I feel like we'll all be pulling on the same rope in that regard." In doing so, Elias echoed the comments Boras made to a mass of reporters assembled in the lobby of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the super agent saying the two sides share hopes of "advancing this and getting Chris' abilities on the field." "We are making great efforts and strides to get it back together," Boras said. "We know he can do it. He's done it so many times for many years."
The question, of course, is how. Davis' production sagged by historic proportions in 2018, when he compiled one of the worst seasons ever by an everyday player. Davis' .168 batting average was the lowest ever for a hitter who qualified for the batting title. He struck out an MLB-worst 37 percent of the time and managed a career-low 16 home runs and 50 OPS+ in 128 games. Davis is owed $92 million through 2022, so that financial commitment roots him on the roster nearly by default. "I just want to see his productivity get better," Elias said. "He's on the team. He's on the team for a while." (J Trezza - MLB.com - Dec 12, 2018)
Dec 21, 2018: All the transition this winter has not stopped the Orioles from venturing into the community, where their outreach has long been directed toward helping local children. In that sense, this year's OriolesREACH holiday party was no different. The 40th annual outing took place on Dec. 11, when Chris Davis led an O's contingent that hosted 80 grade-school students at Dave & Buster's in the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Md.
Together, the Orioles served lunch, played games, signed autographs and took photos with the students, all of whom attend either fourth, fifth or six grade at The Commodore John Rodgers School in Southeast Baltimore. Once identified as a "turnaround school" based on struggling climate, declining enrollment, poor parental satisfaction and low achievement,
Commodore has worked to change that trajectory in recent years. Students selected to attend the party exhibited exemplary attendance, high academic achievement, strong character associated with the school's standards and improvement since the start of the school year. The students' reward was a chance to brush shoulders with Davis. The event was hosted by Rob Long of 105.7 The Fan (WJZ-FM), the flagship station of the Orioles Radio Network. (J Trezza - MLB.com - Dec 21, 2018)
2018: Davis had the highest current WAR (15.6) of any Orioles player.
April 20, 2019: Orioles slugger Chris Davis has had an eventful few weeks. After setting a dubious Major League record for consecutive hitless at-bats, Davis broke it in a big way against the Red Sox -- and now, a week later, we saw his first pitching performance in seven years.
With Baltimore trailing the Twins on Saturday night, 16-7, Davis took the mound in the ninth inning for his second pitching appearance and first since May 2012 -- in which he was credited with a win, no less! (Cut4-MLB.com)
Aug 17, 2019: When 9-year-old Henry Frasca arrived at Fenway Park in April to watch the Orioles play his hometown Red Sox, he had a goal in mind. Henry is a fan of the Red Sox. He’s also a fan of seeing people happy. Henry and his family had been moved by a Sports Illustrated article written last season about Chris Davis and his struggles. The longer Davis’ historic hitless streak grew, the more Henry wanted to reach out to the Orioles’ first baseman.
“He was in pain, and I just didn’t like that,” Henry said. “I decided to try to help him out.”
Henry penned a note in his father’s car on his way to the ballpark. After several determined attempts, he made his way near the Orioles dugout, where he passed the paper on to Baltimore coach Tim Cossins, who took a look at the note and delivered it to Davis, letting him know it was worth a read.
“There are two things I want you to know,” Henry wrote. “First, the way you play baseball has nothing to do with how good a person you are. But also, you have been so good; you have played in the MLB! You are great; don’t give up. We are rooting for you.”
Davis was moved. By that day -- April 13 -- Davis had reached 62 consecutive plate appearances without a hit. The words of the young baseball fan resonated. “When I started reading it, I got a little choked up,” Davis said, sitting next to Henry in the dugout. “But I just thought, ‘You know what? Today’s the day, and I’m going to put his note in my back pocket, I’m going to carry it around with me.’ I had to go get a couple of Ziplocs because I sweat a lot. I threw it in a couple Ziploc bags, put it in my back pocket.”
Davis stepped up to the plate in the first inning and did something he hadn’t done since Sept. 14, 2018. He got a hit, reaching first base with the note in tow. “As ‘Field of Dreams’ as it sounds, we were both positive he was going to come up in the first inning, we were both positive he was going to get a hit,” Henry’s father, Gabriel, said.
The Frascas didn’t know if Davis had, in fact, received the letter. They reached out to the Orioles to ask, and from there, a special meeting was put in motion. Davis wanted to get to know the kid behind the inspiring note, and invited Henry and his father to attend the game in the Orioles’ first series back at Fenway Park since April. “[The note was] talking about how it didn’t really matter who I was on the field, but what kind of person I was,” Davis said. “That’s really what touched me. It kind of made me step back and take a look at the bigger picture. Just knowing that he was keen enough to pick that up and bold enough to say something about it, it meant a lot to me.”
Henry got the full Major League experience. Davis greeted him in the Orioles dugout and took him on a private tour of the clubhouse, where he was given a T-shirt and hat. He’d need the gear for the batting practice he was about to participate in. Davis brought Henry out for warmups, and Henry manned left field. The 9-year-old quickly became a crowd favorite.
“I saw that catch,” Davis proudly said.
“I only made one catch but --” Henry said.
“You got almost a standing ovation,” Davis replied. “The crowd went nuts.”
The pregame experience reminded Davis of the excitement he felt as a kid going to games and seeing Major League players. It was an afternoon neither Davis nor Henry will forget.
“When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, “Oh my gosh, today I’m going to the ballpark,’” Henry said.
Davis replied, “Not just to sit in the seats, to actually play and hang out. It’s been a fun day for me.”
Said Henry, “It’s been one of the best days of my life -- easily.” (J Camerato - MLB.com - Aug 17, 2019)
June 2006: The Rangers chose Davis in the 5th round, out of Navarro Jr. College in Corsicana, Texas.
July 30, 2011: The Rangers sent Davis and RHP Tommy Hunter to the Orioles for Koji Uehara.
January 17, 2014: Chris and the Orioles avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $10.3 million, plus incentives, pact for 2014.
January 16, 2015: Davis and the O's again avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $12 million contract for 2015.
- January 16, 2016: Chris and the Orioles agreed to a 7-year, $161 million contract for Davis to stay in Baltimore. He
will receive a $17 million annual salary from 2016 to 2022, and will receive additional annual payments through 2037, when he will be 51. There is no interest accrued on the deferrals.
The two sides reached an agreement less than two days after the Orioles, frustrated by stalled negotiations with Davis, reportedly made an offer to free-agent Yoenis Cespedes.
Davis provides very good lefthanded power. And he knows how to use it, thanks to a balanced approach and willingness to use the whole field. He hits for lots of power and a high batting average, even though he strikes out a lot.
Chris is a streak hitter. When he is "on," he can carry his team. And, he can hit more than just the fastball. When he is dialed in, he hits changeups, curveballs or sliders, too.
Davis' swing tends to get long. He can get pull-conscious and impatient, but when he connects, he crushes the ball. But he has very good bat speed and leverage. In 2007, after a slow start, Chris regained his timing by planting his front foot and keeping his weight back, and he went on a tear, matching a league record by hitting in 35 consecutive games.
Chris has to tighten up his strike zone. He swings and misses a lot of pitches. He tends to start his hands high then drop them down before the pitch, making him vulnerable against pitches above the belt.
Davis does a good job of making adjustments to how he is being pitched. He can strike out the first two or three times up, then hit a towering home run in his next trip to the plate.
Chris has shortened up his swing and has shown an ability to make adjustments to pitchers, improving his success against lefthanded pitchers.
On May 10, 2009, Davis changed bats. He was hitting only .221 at the time. He had been using a 34-inch, 32-ounce bat, but switched to a 35-inch, 34-ounce model. "I just didn't feel like my timing was right," Davis said. "I went to a heavier bat to see if I could make myself stay back and use my hands more."
After the 2010 season, Chris played for Estrellas, a team based in San Pedro de Macoris, the hometown of Robinson Cano. Davis and Cano happened to run into each other there.
"For you to handicap your power the way you've done it the past two years, that's just wrong," Cano told Chris. "Here in the Dominican, people talk about your power and how they don't see that kind of power very often. You're a power hitter, not a contact hitter."
Can made Davis realize that he had been throttling his God-given power to satisfy all those people who wanted him to "just make contact" more often.
"What he said to me," Davis said, "was like a revelation in my life."
Freedom. Davis found it in the Dominican Winter League. He stopped bending his knees the way the Rangers wanted and stood upright in the batter's box, the way he did naturally as a kid. He dropped his hands as he loaded his swing, took a long stride, moved his head—the very movements that drove the Texas brass nuts and wrongly are considered flaws by old-school thinkers—and rediscovered a stress-free, syrupy swing. He smacked six home runs in 86 at-bats that winter. (Tom Verducci - SI - 8/26/13)
In August 2013, Tom Verducci, the excellent baseball analyst/commentator/writer, sat down with Davis to analyze his swing on a laptop.
Chris pointed out a trigger mechanism that is similar to how Babe Ruth swung the bat: As Davis's right foot comes off the ground, he pumps his hands—from the height of his chin, almost to his belt—so that the tip of his bat barrel actually dips over the inside corner of the plate before being pulled upright again.
Josh Hamilton and Gary Sheffield also have used this "pump-and-dip" action. It's a mechanism the Rangers told Davis to lose.
July 14, 2013: Davis tied an American League record for home runs before the All-Star break with his 37th—tops in the Major Leagues at the break.
September 17, 2013: Chris set an Orioles franchise-record when he hit his 51st home run. (Brady Anderson had 50 in 1996.)
In 2013, Davis hit a club-record and Major League-leading 53 home runs and 96 extra-base hits. His 138 RBIs were most in the Majors and fourth most in Orioles history, and his 370 total bases were a new club record.
Davis also ranked in the top three in the American League in slugging percentage (second, .634); on-base plus slugging percentage (second, 1.003); runs (tied for second, 103) and doubles (tied for third, 42). Davis is only the third player in baseball history to have at least 50 home runs and 40 doubles in a season, joining Babe Ruth and Albert Belle.
The only big leaguers who swing a 35-inch, 33-ounce bat are Davis, Josh Hamilton, Brandon Phillips, and Alfonso Soriano.
Scott Coolbaugh, named the Orioles' hitting coach in the 2014 offseason, could end up being an underrated acquisition for a Baltimore club that had a relatively quiet winter. One of Coolbaugh's biggest tests was getting his prized pupil back on track, as Davis—who will serve the final day of his suspension on Opening Day 2015—will be a key component in the O's quest to repeat as American League East champs.
"I've known the guy for almost 10 years—we've been together every offseason, [we] called or texted in the past, when was I was struggling," Davis said of Coolbaugh, who was a hitting coach while Davis was in the Rangers organization. "Mentally, physically, emotionally . . . however you want to say it, he's been the biggest influence on me for a lot of years." (Ghiroli - mlb.com - 4/1/15)
August 10, 2015:The 29-year-old first baseman hit his 30th home run, the third time he has reached the 30-homer plateau in his fourth full season with the Orioles. He had 33 in 2012 and 53 in 2013.
Davis joins an elite class of former Baltimore players who have had at least 30 home runs in three seasons. The others: Eddie Murray (five seasons), Rafael Palmeiro (four), Boog Powell (four), and Frank Robinson (three).
September 30, 2015: Davis eclipsed 200 HR's. Davis hit his 201st career homer, and had hit 159 as an Oriole, which ranked 10th on the club's all-time list.
Chris sure can pulverize a fastball. You can probably see the swing in your head—the open stance, the uppercut, the flick of the wrists toward the fastball on the outside corner, the seemingly effortless motion that sends a low line drive hurtling over the left-field fence at Camden Yards. Chris makes homers look easy. He's got the kind of strength that makes hitting a fastball for a homer sometimes as simple as putting the bat on the ball.
When Chris put the bat on a fastball in 2015, he did more damage than anyone. His .959 slugging percentage on contact against heaters was tops in baseball, more than 50 points above the guy in third place, and more than 100 points above the guy in fifth place. Nobody punishes fastballs quite like Chris. (Fagerstrom - MLB.com - 3/23/16)
Oct 1, 2017: Davis needed to vent. The slugger, who had one of the most frustrating seasons he can remember in 2017, was candid with the media as he discussed plans to revamp his swing by spring 2018. "I just feel like as a veteran player you have to be able to make an adjustment, and I did not do a good job of that this year (2017) on a day-to-day basis and it showed," said Davis, who entered the season finale batting .216 with 193 strikeouts in 127 games.
"It's been extremely frustrating for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons being that I just feel like there were so many nights out there when I was just a name in the lineup. I didn't feel like I had contributed. Maybe defensively, but definitely not with my bat. And I look at the numbers now and the year as a whole and I feel like I'm a better player than that and I feel like these guys deserve a better product than what I've been giving them. "If you want to call it a chip on my shoulder or motivated or whatever, I definitely have some things I'm looking forward to working on."
Davis, who missed a month of the season with an oblique injury, never got going offensively and often was a target for Orioles fans given that he signed a club-record seven-year, $161 million contract prior to 2016. He entered the final game with 26 homers and 61 RBIs, and often spoke this season about not seeing the ball well. Improving that, and working on eliminating some of the head movement in his swing, are Davis' big priorities this offseason.
"There were times when I felt good and for whatever reason I wasn't able to consistently produce, and then there were times where I felt like it was kind of an uphill battle," Davis said.
"And I think that's where you see a lot of the called third strikes. That bothers me. And anybody who's watched me play at all over the past few years knows I'm an aggressive hitter. I like to swing the bat. I think that's obvious. So, that in itself was inexcusable and it's extremely frustrating. But I think there are definitely mechanical things that I can do to give myself a better chance and ultimately at the end of the day that's all you can do." (B Ghiroli - MLB.com - Oct 8, 2017)
Jan 12, 2018: Davis is ready to put 2017 behind him. Davis, who began training for the upcoming season around Christmastime, is approaching 2018 with a new outlook and is determined to more of a complete hitter. "The strikeouts have continued to climb and the average has continued to drop," Davis said on MLB Network. "Last year, I had way too many called strikes. Called third strikes. Way too many counts where I was taking two strikes before I ever took a swing. For me, it's a matter of being a little too passive or too picky and not trying to capitalize on the pitches early in the count."
The slugger, who in September requested a meeting with local media in which he shouldered much of the lineup blame and vowed to combat his strikeouts, reiterated those points. Davis, who was on his way to the first of two offseason workout sessions, said a lot of what has changed is the way the opposition aligns when he's at the plate.
"A lot of it is just the shift. I've been shifted since—I can remember—2011, I think, was probably the year it was the most consistent throughout teams," Davis said. "The last couple years I've tried so hard to try to hit against the shift, to play that game with them, that I got away from who I was."
Davis called it a "cat-and-mouse game" that has burned him at the plate. He had a career year in 2013, in which he hit 53 homers with 138 RBIs to go with a .286 batting average (and 199 strikeouts over 160 games). In 2016—the first year of a club record, seven-year, $161 million contract—Davis hit 38 homers with 84 RBIs while batting .221 with a career-high 219 strikeouts. In 2017, he played in only 128 games and hit 26 homers with 61 RBIs, batting .215 with 195 strikeouts.
Davis, who lives in Texas in the offseason, was set to do some running drills, followed by a session in the weight room. "As I've grown older, I've learned a lot and feel pretty good about my training regimen now," Davis said.
As for hitting? "I'll hit four times a week, sometimes five times a week," Davis said. "I've learned over the years more is not better, especially when it comes to your swing." (B Ghirolli - MLB.com - Jan 8, 2018)
Sept 22, 2018: In a season that Davis describes as "one disaster after another," the Orioles' first baseman said his focus is on "getting to the finish line" to end the worst offensive season of his 11-year career.
"They all feel the same. Pretty much stink," Davis said of the rough patches he has endured at the plate. "I'm just honestly trying to get to the finish line right now. Not trying to think too much about what's gone on all year. Just trying to keep my head up and get to the finish line. I feel like as long as I'm healthy-ish, this time of the year I think everybody's got bumps and bruises, as long as I'm able to go out there and play, that's the least I can do. So that's what I'm going to do."
After the night's four-strikeout showing, Davis' slash line dropped to .170/.246/.299. With just nine games remaining on the schedule, including Saturday, Davis wanted to make sure that his season did not end on that note. "He's not going to play," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. Davis entered what could be his final game of the 2018 season having gone 1-for-32 with 17 strikeouts in his previous nine games.
"Obviously the strikeouts are up and the weak contact, whatever you want to call it, into the shift, but I mean it's just kind of been one of those years," Davis said. "I'm going to continue to work, continue to do everything I can to try to just get a leg up on the competition, but as far as the rest of the season is concerned, I'm just trying to get to the finish line, and we'll re-evaluate in the offseason."
As the Orioles inch closer to setting a new franchise record for losses in a single season (1939 St. Louis Browns, 111), it's clear that Davis was not the team's only problem. With rumors swirling about Showalter's and general manager Dan Duquette's respective futures with the club, Davis said he believes some changes need to be made before next season.
"I think change is definitely needed. What specific changes, I don't know right now," Davis said. "… I try not to think whether Buck's going to be here, whether Dan's going to be here, who's going to be here, who's not going to be here. I've got enough on my plate. I definitely think change is needed, there's no doubt about that. Losing 100-plus games and deciding not to change, I think that's foolish. So we'll see what the offseason brings and we'll go from there."
Although Davis is currently in only his third year of a seven-year contract with Baltimore, he says he has thought a little about the idea that he could not be a part of the team's rebuild.
"I've thought about that a little bit. I honestly haven't really heard a whole lot," Davis said. "… I honestly don't worry about that. I've been very fortunate to play here for several years, to see a lot of different faces come in and come out, to win, be on postseason teams. And to be a part of a rebuild, it's tough, especially as an older player, but I understand the commitment that I made to the team and to Baltimore, and I'm going to honor that as much as I can." (M Bell - MLB.com - Sept 22, 2018)
April 8, 2019: Davis made history, but not for something he's necessarily thrilled about. A lineout to left field in the bottom of the fifth inning was Davis' 47th consecutive at-bat without a hit, breaking the MLB record for the longest streak by a position player.
April 10, 2019: Chris, has now tied Tony Bernazard’s Major League record for consecutive hitless plate appearances. Davis is now 0-for-29 this season, and hasn’t gotten a hit since his double off James Shields last Sept. 14. Since then, he’s gone 57 plate appearances without a knock; Bernazard did the same for the Indians in 1984.April 11: His historic hitless streak is still alive, now the longest ever by a position player by several measures. But the atmosphere surrounding Davis has demonstrably changed as his plight has caught the attention of a national audience.
April 13, 2019: It’s over. The streak is over. Chris snapped his skid of 62 consecutive plate appearances without a hit with a two-run single to right field off Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello in the first inning. He had gone hitless in 54 consecutive at-bats.
May 15, 2019: Chris started the 2019 season without a hit in his first 38 plate appearances, which came after he ended the 2018 season without a hit in his final 24 appearances, which all together made for a Major League record 62 consecutive plate appearances without a hit. Coming on the heels of a 2018 where he'd hit all of .168/.243/.296, and given that the Orioles had turned over their front office after a disastrous 47-115 season, it seemed reasonable to wonder how much longer Davis would even be an Oriole.
A month later, we come bearing what probably sounds like an insane question, one originally posed to us via Twitter: What would have to happen to make Davis an All-Star this year?
Wait! Don't go. There's something to this. The reason we can even have this conversation is that since Davis got that first hit to break the streak back on April 13, one of three that day, he's been... really quite good, actually.
Davis, since April 13 76 plate appearances - .279/.355/.544, .899 OPS, 140 wRC+ (where 100 is league-average). That's not just "good compared to a guy who couldn't buy a hit," it's objectively good. He's been really, really good. OK, so that's the good news: Davis has been performing a lot better, and he's earned it with skill, not luck.
A few weeks back, Davis was the guy who couldn't get a hit. What a difference a few weeks has made. (Petriello - mlb.com)
- August 2, 2019: Chris hit his 250th home run as an Oriole against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards.
- As of the start of the 2019 season, Davis's career Major League stats were a .238 batting average, 283 home runs and 1,099 hits with 743 RBI in 4,619 at-bats.
Chris is best at first base, where he is adequate and has a strong arm.
In 2007, he played at third base for Bakersfield (CAL-Rangers). Davis is adequate at the hot corner, with decent range and good glovework. But he has poor footwork and actions.
- 2019: Davis used to play a little outfield and a little third base. But not anymore, just first base now.
- Chris is a below average baserunner. He lacks speed.
- Spring 2006: While in college, Davis had back problems that limited his time on the mound. No problem, his best position has always been at the plate with a bat in his hands.
- October 15, 2007: Chris fouled a ball off his foot during an Arizona Fall League game and was sidelined.
- August 15-September 6, 2011: Davis was on the D.L. with a groin injury/sports hernia.
- October 13, 2011: Chris did not end up undergoing sports hernia surgery, instead resting and rehabbing.
April 26-May 11, 2014: Davis heading to D.L. with a left oblique strain. Rest was the requirement.
On April 28, Davis had a platelet-rich plasma injection and was shut down until the discomfort in his left oblique completely subsides.
June 13-July 17, 2017: Davis was on the DL with a right oblique strain.
"I think three weeks would be real ambitious," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I'd sign up for that right now."
March 5, 2019: First baseman Chris Davis was a late scratch from the lineup in the Orioles’ 10-4 loss to the Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium. He is day to day with a left hip flexor strain. Manager Brandon Hyde said the injury is not considered serious.
“His hip flexor is a little sore,” Hyde said. “[It happened] on a throw up the line a couple of days ago and it grabbed a little bit. He took a ton of swings yesterday and it’s a little sore, so we’re going to keep him out for precaution.”
- May 25-June 4, 2019: Davis was on the IL with left hip inflammation.